The producer outlines the impact on the art of the Airdrie town hall events closing

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A theater producer has criticized the decision to turn Airdrie City Hall into a long-term vaccination center, saying it will have further implications for arts and community events once performance rooms are allowed to reopen.

Glasgow Philharmonic Founder and Creative Director Ross Gunning had just finished preparing for the next month’s Movies to Musicals show when he received an “out of the blue” email saying the venue was in Stirling Street is now unavailable as the main hall for an ongoing Covid vaccination booster program for the next two years.

He says his group was “utterly devastated” when they were told that their previously postponed performance could no longer take place as existing bookings were canceled; and believes that the loss of the venue for public events will have a negative impact on the city.

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According to North Lanarkshire Council, the building was selected as a vaccination center to meet NHS requirements for size, location and seven days of use, adding, “The vaccination program is our top priority.”

Ross told Lanarkshire Live: “Nobody seemed to be aware that this was happening to Town Hall; When I posted the news on Facebook, people asked about their courses and events taking place there.

“Airdrie City Hall is the biggest cultural venue in town and all the performers were dying to go back there – there will be various amateur theater groups wondering where they’re going now and I don’t think that’s going to do the trick. The area is well thought out.

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“Everyone’s health and wellbeing are so important; But why do you use a performance center full of bookings for concerts and events that all have to be canceled? Couldn’t they have used a space like a church hall or a football stadium that is not used every day?

“It’s always the arts that are involved; the last two years have been very challenging and it has become even more. We try to give young artists free opportunities; the government must stand up and support the arts. ”

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Ross was offered an alternative venue in Motherwell for his show – which he first performed to sold out audiences at Airdrie two years ago a few months ago.

Regarding the new dates, however, he said, “They were so far from what we had planned – the show is only a few weeks away and I can’t see the actors and children who have not been on stage together since then let down February 2020.

“We managed to get a new venue in Lanark for September 16th and they are helping us make it work, but it has been hard work and very stressful, especially in terms of transferring or refunding tickets.

“Airdrie Town Hall has had our money for two years and they say it could be weeks before we get it back, but they expect us to book another venue and spend even more – where do we get the money from after two years of the Nothing? because of a pandemic? “

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North Lanarkshire’s other vaccination centers will be located at the Link Community Center in Cumbernauld and the existing facility at the Ravenscraig Sports Center in Motherwell.

Each meets criteria such as a single hall that is large enough for up to 10 vaccination lanes, separate entrances and exits, seven-day use, parking spaces and public transport links.

Council officials say they will continue to use the smaller hall on the upper floor of the Airdrie venue for “cultural and community activities including art classes, cinema screenings and rentals”.

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A local authority spokesman told Lanarkshire Live: “We are still in the midst of fighting a global health pandemic and the NHS immunization program is our top priority.

“We have offered groups suitable alternative care so that their events can take place and we will continue to engage with groups to find a solution.

“For now, however, our absolute focus is on working with our partners in the NHS and the Scottish Government to support the successful introduction of the vaccination program.”

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